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Todd McShay mock draft: Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons to New York Giants

Once again we ask: Is this the year the Giants draft a linebacker in the first round?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mock drafts for the New York Giants have generally been a steady parade of offensive tackles in 2020. Considering the need to find long-term answers at both the right and left tackle positions, and the fact that there is a quartet of tackles who could start in the NFL right away, that’s an easy pick to make.

ESPN’s Todd McShay’s post-combine mock draft (Insider content) released late Monday night goes in another direction. McShay instead opted to help out the Giants’ anemic defense with linebacker Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson.

4. New York Giants
Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson

The Giants defense needs everything, and everything is exactly what Simmons brings to the table. He was a factor in every single statistical area in 2019 for the Tigers, and his blazing 4.39-second time in the 40, wild 39-inch vertical and ridiculous 11-foot broad jump took Indianapolis by storm. It was one of the best workouts we’ve ever seen from a linebacker. A converted safety, Simmons fits what NFL teams are looking for today and can affect so many areas of the game. New York handed 28.2 points per game to opponents last season, more than all but two other teams. Let’s jump start the defensive rebuild with a true difference-maker.

Raptor’s Thoughts: I can’t say I would be upset at all with this pick. Ordinarily, off-ball linebacker is at the bottom of the positional value chart for the defense. However, Simmons isn’t an ordinary linebacker. Not only does he have out-of-this-world athleticism, but he brings a remarkably varied skill set as a former DB. He would finally give the Giants a player who can match up on any running back or tight end in the NFL, as well as a fair number of wide receivers. Simmons also offers upside as a run-and-chase run defender as well as an explosive blitzer to help the Giants’ struggling pass rush.

New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham wants to run a varied and flexible defense with creative blitz disguises, and Simmons’ versatility is a great fit for that.

And, bear with me here, but if the Giants were to draft Simmons as well as convert Lorenzo Carter and Jabrill Peppers to full-time off-ball linebackers — a position at which both have played their best football — they could suddenly have fallen into having the most athletic and versatile linebacking corps in the NFL. That won’t happen, but at the very least it’s something to think about.

The Giants are rife with needs, from the offensive line (RT, C, and developmental depth) and wide receiver on offense to EDGE, LB, free safety, slot corner, and potentially outside corner on defense. They can’t solve all of that with one pick, but Simmons would at least be able to address a couple areas on the defense. Does that make him a better pick than one of the Big Four tackles? That’s in the eye of the beholder, but it does make him a viable option at the top of the first round.

The rest of the NFC East

Washington Redskins: Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)